LIHI Certificate #47 - Ware River Project, Massachusetts

Project Name Ware River
LIHI Certificate No. 47
LIHI Certificate Term August 24, 2019 – August 23, 2029
Owner Ware River Power, Inc.
State Massachusetts
Location Located between river mile 11.5 and 12 on the Ware River in Massachusetts.
Installed Capacity 1.87 MW
Average Annual Generation 5,000 MWh
Facility Type Run-of-river
FERC No. P-3127 exempt 1982

The Ware River Project is located beside Route 9 in the town of Ware, Massachusetts and consists of two dams (one upstream and one downstream dam), three powerhouses (two upstream and one downstream), and 6 turbines – three units in one upper dam powerhouse, one unit in the adjacent upper dam powerhouse and two units including a new minimum flow unit in the lower powerhouse.

The Ware River flows southwest through the middle of the state and joins the Quaboag River at Three Rivers, Massachusetts, to form the Chicopee River on its way to the Connecticut River confluence in Springfield. There are five dams upstream of the Project with the closest dam (the Wheelwright Pond Dam) located about 7 miles upstream in the village of Wheelwright. Nine dams lie downstream of the project before the confluence with the Connecticut River. Two lie on the Ware River and the rest lie on the Chicopee River. These include Red Bridge (LIHI #96), Collins (LIHI #88), Putts Bridge (LIHI #102), Indian Orchard (LIHI #112), Chicopee Falls Dam, and Dwight (LIHI #170).

The project includes two dams:

  • Upper Dam: The dam was built between 1880 and 1882. It is approximately115 feet long and 34 feet high with1-foot high flashboards and a spillway which impounds a 39.5-acre reservoir and a 0.25-mile-long bypass reach. The dam consists of a concrete-capped main spillway with a higher concrete spillway extension to the right (facing downstream) separated by a concrete wall. There is an emergency spillway left of the dam and an outlet gate house to a canal at the right of the dam, all connected by either concrete or stone walls. The concrete emergency spillway left of the main spillway is 16 feet in length. A wooden gatehouse is located at the right of the spillways and forms the inlet to a holding pond. Water in the holding pond is conveyed through two penstocks to the two powerhouses associated with the upper development. Units 1, 2 and 5 are contained in a single powerhouse while unit 4 is in a separate adjacent powerhouse. The combined capacity of all units is 1.48 MW.
  • Lower Dam: The dam is a 110-foot-long 15-foot-high concrete capped cut granite dam which impounds a 10-acre reservoir. Two 6-foot-diameter, 70-foot-long steel penstocks convey water to a mill/powerhouse containing two turbine generators with a combined capacity of 0.39 MW. The lower dam is seated on top of a 17-foot-tall natural falls. The intake structure is located adjacent to the right abutment, perpendicular to the river flow and conveys water into two 7-foot diameter penstocks and the two turbines. The two penstocks convey the flow into the first pressure case (Unit 3), where a portion of the flow passes through the first unit and flows out its draft tube. The remaining water flows through a short, 3-foot 5-inch diameter spool piece, into the second pressure case. It flows through the second unit (Unit 6, a new minimum flow unit) into its draft tube. The two flows combine and pass out of the discharge pit through a tailrace archway, back into the Ware River, near the base of the lower dam.

The project operates in a run-of-river mode and provides a minimum flow of 26.8 cfs continually over the upper dam into the bypassed reach. This flow was voluntarily increased as recommended by Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MDFW). The minimum flow in combination with leakage flow from the four turbines at the upper development ensures the release of 90-100 cfs downstream of the project at all times.

Waters within the project reach are designated as Class B by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MDEP). The waters are also listed as impaired due to E. coli and fecal coliform. MDEP has confirmed that the project is not contributing to nor the cause of the listed impairment. It is likely that the impairment is the result of illicit connections to storm sewers and urban stormwater runoff.

Migratory fish are not able to reach this stretch of river due to the presence of downstream barriers and dams without upstream passage. The only species that may exist in the project area is the catadromous American eel. Resident riverine fish species include stocked trout, fallfish, yellow perch, yellow bullhead, common shiner, golden shiner, spot-tailed shiner, bluegill, redbreast sunfish, pumpkinseed, longnose dace, black nose dace, tessellated darter, chain pickerel, rock bass, white sucker, eastern and largemouth bass. The upper and lower developments each have trashracks with 1.75-inch and 1.5-inch clear spacing respectively, to minimize the potential for entrainment. The bypass minimum flow provides a route for downstream passage for resident species.

The upper powerhouses are located in a small metal building with little to no land surrounding them and the lower powerhouse is located within a mill building. Land use in the bypass reach, lower impoundment and downstream reach is considered non-residential. Land use in the upper impoundment consists of residential and non-residential uses immediately upstream of the dam. Forests line the left descending bank and both shorelines of the project impoundments. Due to the small footprint and urban environment of the project, no lands of significant ecological value exist in the project area.

Threatened or endangered species potentially present in the project vicinity include the Northern long-eared bat, creeper mussel, brook floater, and triangle floater. Due to the urban nature of the project, it is unlikely that the bat species is present or that the project operations have any impact on the species. The Lower Ware Dam and downstream reach are mapped as Priority and Estimated Habitat for the three freshwater mussel species. MDFW was consulted to provide recommendations for mitigating any impacts on the listed mussel species and their habitat. These recommendations relate to any future drawdown events and provide guidance for ensuring protection of the species.

Cultural resources in the project area include the Ware Historic Mill Yard which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986. In 2017, when the project was proposing turbine upgrades, the Massachusetts Historical Commission was consulted to determine any impact on cultural and historic resources. The Commission found no adverse effect of project upgrades and operations on nearby resources.

No formal recreational amenities are provided at the project due the small footprint of the project and the steep, rocky nature of the embankment and other safety concerns. Greenville park is located in the upper impoundment and provides handicap accessible fishing piers, scenic trails, picnic areas, sports amenities, and a boat launch.

Compliance Status

The Certificate includes the following conditions:

Condition satisfied in 2021, Condition 1: The facility Owner shall, within 6 months of recertification, consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine if the instantaneous run-of-river monitoring and maintenance plan recommended by the Service per Section 30(C) of the Federal Power Act, and required by the FERC August 2017 Order Amending Exemption, is still necessary. The results of consultation shall be provided to LIHI in annual compliance submittals until the issue is closed. If the plan is not required, the Owner should file the agency concurrence with FERC within 3 months of that determination. If the plan is still required, the Owner shall develop a draft plan for agency review and provide a copy of the final plan including any agency comments on the draft to LIHI within 60 days of plan completion.

Condition 2: The three-year post turbine upgrade water quality monitoring is scheduled to be performed beginning in 2020. The results of the monitoring studies along with any resource agency comments and any proposed mitigation that may be needed shall be provided to LIHI within 60 days of each annual study report’s issuance. LIHI reserves the right to reassess or revoke certification based on the information provided.

Condition satisfied in 2021, Condition 3: Should drawdown events occur at the facility during the term of LIHI Certification for maintenance or emergency reasons, the facility Owner shall consult with MDFW and develop the required state-listed mussel species protection plan to protect state-listed mussels and their habitat. The Owner shall file copies of the plan and all agency consultation to LIHI within 60 days of MDFW approving the plan.

2023: No material changes or compliance issues were identified. The project remains in compliance based on the annual review. For Condition 2, the project reported that sampling would be done when water level conditions allow, and had requested of USFWS that the recommendation be forgiven due to the length of time the plant has been on-line and in automation.

2022: No material changes or compliance issues were identified. The project remains in compliance based on the annual review. For Condition 2, the project reported conducting agency consultation regarding additional monitoring when water conditions allow. 

2021: There were no reported changes or compliance issues. The project remains in compliance based on the annual review. For Conditions 1 and 3, the project provided copies of the required plans, thus satisfying those conditions.  For Condition 2, the project reported an extension request would be made to conduct monitoring in 2022 due to persistent high flows in 2021.

2020: There were no reported compliance issues.  The project reported the turbine upgrade had been completed. The project remains in compliance based on the annual review.  For all conditions, the project reported no changes.

2019: Annual reporting for the current Certificate has not yet taken effect.

Certification History

January 1, 2022: The LIHI Certificate term has been extended in accordance with Revision 2.05 of the LIHI 2nd Edition Certification Handbook issued January 1, 2022. Refer to the facility table above for the new term.

June 1, 2020: The decision to recertify the Ware River Project became final after the close of the appeals period on May 31, 2020 with no appeals filed. The Certification term is from August 24, 2019 – August 23, 2024.

May 1, 2020:  The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has preliminarily approved the Ware River Project (LIHI #47) for a new 5-year term of Low Impact Certification. This decision is preliminary pending the 30-day appeal window. Only those who commented on the initial application during the 60-day comment period are eligible to file an appeal. Such appeal needs to include an explanation as to how the Project does not meet the LIHI criteria. Appeal requests can be submitted by email to with “Ware River Project” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Ave, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. All requests will be posted to the website. The applicant will have an opportunity to respond and any response will also be posted. Requests must be received by 5 pm Eastern time on May 31, 2020. The full application and reviewer’s report are available below. If no appeal requests are received and the decision becomes final, the Certification term for the Project will be August 24, 2019 through August 23, 2024.

February 25, 2020: The Low Impact Hydropower Institute (LIHI) has received a complete recertification application from Ware River Power, Inc. for the Ware River Project located on the Ware River in Ware, Massachusetts. The complete application can be found below. LIHI is seeking comment on this application. Comments that are directly tied to specific LIHI criteria (flows, water quality, fish passage, etc.) will be most helpful, but all comments will be considered. Comments may be submitted to the Institute by e-mail at with “Ware River Project Comments” in the subject line, or by mail addressed to the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, 329 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 6, Lexington, MA 02420. Comments must be received at the Institute on or before 5 pm Eastern time on April 25, 2020 to be considered. All comments will be posted to the web site and the applicant will have an opportunity to respond. Any response will also be posted.

December 14, 2015: LIHI Executive Director Michael J. Sale, using authority delegated from the LIHI Governing Board, has certified that the Ware River Hydroelectric Project (FERC No. P-3127) continues to satisfy the LIHI Certification Criteria. A Preliminary Decision was announced on October 23, 2015, and a 30-day appeal period was open through November 23, 2015. No requests for appeal were received. This Certification Decision includes one facility-specific conditions, as follows:

  • Condition satisfied in 2018. The proposed modifications to the Lower Dam may be completed during the term of the new LIHI certification. Should this occur during the five-certification period as currently planned, the facility owner shall provide LIHI a copy of any License Exemption Amendment, along with resource agency comments and a schedule of the project’s planned initiation and completion dates, within 30 days of receipt of the Amendment. The results of any sampling or monitoring studies required by the Amendment or resource agencies shall be provided to LIHI within 60 days of results documentation. At that time, LIHI will review the new certification and make changes if appropriate.

The effective certification date for the Ware River Project is August 24, 2014 for a five (5) year term, which will expire on August 24, 2019.

January 1, 2015:   Executive Director Michael J. Sale issues a letter extending the Ware River Project certificate to March 31, 2015.

June 18, 2014: LIHI has received an application for a second term of certification of the Ware River Hydroelectric Project. The application materials can be found in the “Files” section below.

March 4, 2010: The Ware River Hydroelectric Project has been certified as low impact for a five year term, effective August 24, 2009 and expiring August 24, 2014.

January 5, 2010: After much discussion between Ware River Hydro, Inc. and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game concerning a possible resolution based on increasing minimum stream flow, the details of this potential agreement can be read below, in a letter from Lucas Wright to LIHI, dated December 10, 2009.

August 24, 2009: Ware River Hydro, Inc. has submitted an application for certification of the Pioneer Hydroelectric Company Project located on the Ware River in Ware, Massachusetts. A public comment period will remain open for 60 days, until October 24, 2009.

Certification Files

2020 Recertification

2015 Recertification

2010 Certification


Key Documents